What is a Foodborne Illness?

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What is a Foodborne Illness?

Foodborne illness, or foodborne disease, is any type of illness that results from the consumption of contaminated or expired food.  It can also arise from exposure to severely mishandled food.  Food borne illness usually results from the improper preparation, handling, or storage of food and food products, including dishes and silverware.  For this reason, every state has very strict laws when it comes to the hygiene practices associated with serving food to the general public.

Foodborne illness is usually accompanied by very specific gastro-intestinal symptoms, including vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or an overall discomfort.  The term “food-borne” means carried or transmitted by the food.

What are Some Causes of a Foodborne Illness?

Foodborne illness may be caused by food contaminants, such as chemicals or toxins that have found there way into the food somehow.  They may also be caused by naturally occurring substances, such as the poisons found in some mushrooms, or the toxins carried by certain reef fish. 

Bacteria is one of the main contaminants that can cause a food illness.  These are transferred due to improper handling or preparation, namely, a lack of hand washing by food preparers.  Some common types of food bacteria are salmonella, E. Coli, and Staphylococcus aureus.  Any instances where food preparation laws are violated should be reported to state or local authorities, in order to avoid mass outbreaks of foodborne illness.

Is a Foodborne Illness Different From a Food Allergy?

Yes- a food allergy does not affect the entire population, but only persons with that specific food allergy.  Also, a person with a food allergy might experience symptoms even with food that has not been contaminated, simply because they are allergic to that type of food.  For instance, a person with a peanut allergy will likely experience symptoms even with fresh, edible and uncontaminated peanuts.  However, they can likely file suit if a food preparer serves them peanuts even after being informed of their peanut allergy.

On the other hand, a foodborne illness is likely to affect all sectors of the population due to the contaminated food.  As such, foodborne illnesses may result in more widespread effects on the population.  Legal remedies usually include a damages award to reimburse people for the cost of the food, medical costs, and other expenses. 

Do I Need an Attorney for Assistance With a Foodborne Illness Case?

The laws that govern foodborne illnesses and injuries can be very complex.  You may need to hire an experienced lawyer if you need help filing a lawsuit due to a foodborne injury.  Your lawyer can help explain how the laws and rules in your region might affect your claim.  Also, your lawyer can perform extensive legal research to help ensure that you receive a legal remedy that is fitting for your circumstances.

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Last Modified: 06-13-2013 04:07 PM PDT

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